Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats


while the Chinese believe in flashes of common sense and
insight. And inductive reasoning, carried over to human
relationships (in which the Chinese are primarily interested),
often results in a form of stupidity not so rare in American
universities. There are to-day doctorate dissertations in the
inductive method which would make Bacon turn in his grave.
No Chinese could possibly be stupid enough to write a dis-
sertation on ice-cream, and after a series of careful observations,
announce the staggering conclusion that "the primary
function of sugar [in the manufacture of ice-cream] is to
sweeten it/'1 or after a methodical study in "Time and Motion
Comparison on Four Methods of Dish-washing" happily
perceive that "stooping and lifting are fatiguing";2 or that,
in "A Study of the Bacterial Content of Cotton Undershirts,33
"the number of bacteria tends to increase with the length of
time garments are worn."3 A newspaper report several years
ago stated that a University of Chicago student, after making
a "comparative study" of the impressional power of various
types of lettering, found that the blacker the lines, the more striking
they are to the eye.

This sort of stupidity, although useful to business advertise-
ment, could really be arrived at, I think, just as correctly by
a moment of Chinese common sense and "intuition." The
best cartoon I have ever seen in Punch is that of a congress of
behaviourists who, after passing a number of pig "subjects"
through a test, with a thermometer in the snout and a pearl
necklace dangling in front, unanimously resolve that pigs do
not respond to the sight of jewellery. These things cannot be
merely prostitution of the scientific method, for we find that
Professor Cason of Rochester University read a paper at the
Ninth Annual International Conference of Psychologists on the
"Origin and Nature of Common Annoyances," in which he
had noted 21,000 kinds of annoyances, which, after deducting
duplications and "spurious annoyances," were later reduced

1 Teachers* College Record, Columbia University, Feb., 1930, p. 472, quoted
by Abraham Flexner: Universities, American, English and German.

s Flexner, ibid. "A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty in
candidacy for degree of Master of Arts," University of Chicago.

8 Flexner, ibid. "A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the
requirements of Kansas State Agricultural College for Degree of Doctor oi